Goodbye Friend

0

We had to have our dog Viktor put to sleep yesterday. He’d been refusing food and losing weight for a while. And then we noticed him sleeping much more and becoming weaker. Hedgehog took him to the vet last week for some tests and yesterday the vet told him he had kidney failure. He reckoned he only had a few days left, so Hedgehog made the hard decision to do the kindest thing for him. 

It was hard. We’d had him for about seven years. He was a big, lovable dufus. So friendly. So patient. So calm. Clumsy and stoopid and in the way all the time. 

Nookie was beside herself. She’s just at the age of really understanding what death means. I’d explained before he went to the vet what might happen, but I don’t think she really understood until he’d gone. 

And of course Arfur is just distraught. He’s done nothing but mooch around looking sad, snuggling up to us at every opportunity. He keeps looking at his bed like he expects Viktor to be there. He won’t eat. He misses his brother so much. 

We all do. I had a love/hate relationship with Viktor. He was a pain. He regularly walked shit into the house. He was so awkward with food. He drove me crazy! But he was also sweet and lovable. He would let the kids do anything to him and never complained. He was a gentle giant. 

People say losing a dog is like losing a member of the family. I never really understood that until now. But then I look over at the dog bed and expect to see him laying there, half sprawled into the middle of the room and I know what they mean. 

Goodbye big fella. 

   
    
 

Fugue

0

These days… they’re getting harder. I’m getting worn out. I’m getting angrier. Kids. They’re such hard work. 

I find the joy. I find it a hundred times a day. Every morning I get up and summon up all my enthusiasm. And every night I end the day a quivering wreck, utterly spent and entirely out of fucks. 

We’re going through a rough patch. Smushface is refusing to go to sleep at night. Tonight it was 11.10pm when she was finally asleep! Nookie is going through a stubborn phase and there’s often no talking her around. She is having night terrors some nights and keeping me up. Smushface has started waking repeatedly through the night. 

Gradually they’re wearing me down. I’m starting to get that worn out mum look… the one where you haven’t showered or brushed your hair in days, your pyjamas are permanently covered in chocolate (I don’t usually manage to wear clothes anymore), and you let the baby play in the dog water bowl just so she’ll stop shrieking.

In the space of ten minutes today I managed to burn melted chocolate that I was making for Nookie, put the second lot where Smushface could reach it, and consequently she pulled the bowl off the sofa and smashed it – melted chocolate all over the carpet, and be vomitted over. By the vomiting bit I was so over it I just laughed and stripped us both naked in the kitchen. Fuck it. 

But they’re asleep now. Somehow. It took a mammoth tag team effort from myself and Hedgehog. I did some shouting and lots of protesting. Smushface did lots of screaming. Nookie backed down from an argument for once, seeming to recognise how stressed I was (bless her). They’re asleep. I can sleep. Sleep… and do it all again tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. 

I love them. I love them more than life. They’re my whole world. But fuck me they’re hard work!

What I Achieved Today

5

It’s one of those days where I feel like I’ve been chasing my own tail all day like some sort of demented dog, and never actually achieved anything. These sorts of days are getting increasingly frequent as Smushface gets older. The kids… they run me ragged! I don’t ever seem to pause for breath. Even as I write this I’m also trying to feed Smushface to sleep in the sling. And I know the second I go downstairs once I’m done Nookie will be on me to play with her some more. It’s never ending. 

But damn it I have achieved stuff today! Shut up little voice. You’re a yapping little cunt. Yes I know there’s a pile of laundry as tall as me in the hall that I didn’t get around to sorting today. Yes I know I forgot to make the appointment for Smushface’s vaccinations (after I forgot her original appointment) again! Yes I am slightly drunk. So fucking what?! Look…

Today:

I wrote out the shopping list I couldn’t do yesterday because I had to put Smushface back to bed SEVEN fucking times!!!

I found the paperwork we need to be able to take the poorly dog to the (charity) vet this week – buried under a load of shit in the spare room. 

I cooked pancakes for the kids (Nookie’s favourite breakfast) and then chased Smushface around trying to get her to actually eat rather than feed it to the dog!

I went food shopping to the market and supermarket with Smushface in tow

I took back the library books that were a month overdue and got some new ones I thought Nookie might like

I took some stuff to the charity shop that’s been sitting in the hall for months

I came home and put Smushface down for a nap, and while she napped played some x-box games with Nookie

I cooked dinner. The feta I used in the meal was off or something (it tasted like a horse!) so I had to throw it away and salvage something from the ingredients I had left over

I’ve changed about eight nappies today and changed Smushface’s clothes three times

I’ve spent about three hours in total today breastfeeding, usually whilst also doing something else

I helped Nookie play an Xbox game and played a few others with her (sonic, etc)

I read Smushface some books from the library 

Hedgehog and I talked about some financial stuff and made some important decisions (whilst also playing with the kids)

I found some new clothes for Nookie to look through on eBay 

And look, I blogged!

So screw you little voice! I’m not lazy. I’ve had a really hardcore day. Yes it might look like I’ve sat around all day doing bugger all, but you know, YOU KNOW I haven’t stopped all bloody day! I’m still feeding Smushface in the sling. She’s almost asleep enough to transfer. I’ve been standing here nearly half an hour. My feet and back are killing me. And in a minute I’m going to go downstairs and most likely play with Nookie for the rest of the night until it’s time for her to go to bed. Then I’ll make her a snack, read her bedtime stories and finally, at about 11.20pm, she’ll be asleep. I work from 7.30am until 11.20pm most days (and often through the night too) without a single break. 

So shut up little voice. Screw you!

Unschooling with Video Games

0

Nookie is a gamer. She loves video games passionately. And lately she is all about YouTube and the games that YouTubers play. She watches hours of her favourite YouTuber videos: iHasCupquake, Jacksepticeye, Markiplier, Pewdiepie and others… and then I have to download the games for her to play. At the minute she’s very into Yandere Simulator, Who’s Your Daddy, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare, CHKN, and Scribblenauts. She plays them for hours most days. She was previously very into Jazzpunk and Octodad, but having played them through so many times she could do the whole of the games within a couple of hours I think she’s tired of them now. She has also started dipping her toe into The Sims and Age of Empires, though she needs a lot of help from an adult with these as they involve reading. Minecraft is always a firm favourite, but she plays it less these days than she used to.

There is so much learning value in these games (they’re costing us a fortune though! lol). She gets to learn about strategy for example. Who’s Your Daddy is a two player game where you play as either a daddy or baby: the baby has to try to kill himself, via a number of methods, and the daddy has to try to stop him. When she plays as the daddy she has to anticipate what the other player will do and plan the order she will baby-proof the house in to try to stop the baby.

Scribblenauts is excellent. If you have a child and haven’t downloaded it, do it! For anyone who doesn’t know, in Scribblenauts you play as a boy called Maxwell who has to help people with their problems by spawning items/creature, etc, or adding adjectives, through his notepad. So, on one occasion you come across a boy who can’t get past a bully. You select the notepad and can write the word “sword” to give the boy a sword to kill the bully. Or you could select the bully and give him the adjective “tiny” or “dead”. There are usually dozens of ways to solve the problem, often with funny results, and you get bonus points for using a different word every time. It’s really helping Nookie with her reading.

I won’t bother talking about how good Minecraft is. There are literally dozens of articles online about the benefits of Minecraft. I could go on about it all day. It really is fantastic.

Through her love of video games Nookie is learning to read and write. She is learning strategy, planning, problem-solving, patience. She is learning maths. She gets to practice design and creativity. The Sims 3 is really good for playing with design and expression. The ways you can dress your sims and make them look are virtually endless, as are the decorations for your homes. Nookie enjoys trying to make sims of her favourite cartoon characters. She has a My Little Pony family, for example, where each of the sims looks as close to a character as she can make them, and she has carefully thought about what each pony’s personality is like so she can choose those traits for her sims’ personalities.

Age of Empires is really good (if slightly advanced). In this game you play as a historic civilisation. You start off with a few villagers and a town centre, have to gather resources and quickly expand before you are defeated by your enemy’s civilisation. It’s a game that requires planning and forethought about how to efficiently use resources. Through it Nookie is not only learning strategy, she is also learning history. We’ve spoken about ancient civilisations and the way people used to live. It’s led to some very interesting discussions.

Video games are fun. I love them… always have. I was a big gamer growing up too. I was a child when the first Sony Playstation was released and my uncle, who used to babysit for us, would bring his around and let us stay up late watching him play Tomb Raider and Resident Evil. I spent hours on my Sega Master System growing up, playing Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex the Kid. As a teen I loved Rollercoaster Tycoon, The Sims, Age of Empires, Silent Hill and dozens of other games. They were a huge part of my childhood.

Nookie obviously loves games too. You’ll never see her more animated than when she is telling someone about her new favourite video game. Today her Nannie came over and she spent ten minutes talking non-stop about Yandere Simulator (my mum had no idea what she was talking about!). It’s her passion and she is VERY good at them! She’s five years old and she can beat me at some of them. It took me three days to play Octodad through when we first downloaded it. Nookie can play through the entire game now in a couple of hours (if you’ve never played Octodad you won’t know why it’s so difficult… download it and see for yourself).

So yeh, I’ll never understand why computer games are vilified like they are. There is so much substance to them… so much of value. Yes there is value in playing outside, or building Lego or painting a picture too, but show me an unschooled child who doesn’t do those things too. But denying children video games closes a whole rich avenue for them to learn from, and that’s a shame. I’m glad Nookie has found something that ignites her passion like it obviously does. Joy is something you can never have too much of!

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease 

5

About two and a half months ago Smushface got Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. It’s a relatively mild illness in kids. She was unsettled for a few days with a considerable amount of crying. And then it passed. No big deal.

Then I caught it. And let me tell you… HFMD is no fun for adults! Nearly three months later and it is STILL affecting me! 

Apparently it’s fairly unusual for adults to catch it, but it’s usually worse for adults. Worse?! It’s bloody awful! Unfortunately though I struggled to find much info online about it, it’s so unusual. So I want to give a bit of info here to anyone out there looking for information. 

So first off I got the spots of course. Just one itchy dot on a hand to start with. Then more. And more. After a couple of days my hands and feet were covered. 

   

I also had cold-like symptoms for a few days. 

Nothing prepared me for what was to come. 

A day or two after the spots appeared my hands started to hurt like CRAZY. Honestly they felt like they’d been dipped in boiling water! I could barely touch anything. I had to take painkillers just to be able to function. My fingertips especially felt like they’d been burned off. I remember having to change Smushface’s nappy the morning they started to hurt and being on the verge of tears while I did it, it hurt so bad. 

And my mouth too felt like it was burned. It was very painful to have anything in my mouth. 

But the worst… my nipples. My nipples became blistered and sore. What on earth nipples have to do with HFMD is anyone’s guess but mine hurt like crazy. Breastfeeding was agony for about two weeks! They were covered in bleeding blisters. It was awful. 

Anyway, after a week or so the symptoms subsided and I started to feel normal again. I figured that was the end of it. Wrong!

Everywhere I’d had blisters I started to notice my skin was peeling. It got worse and worse. The skin on my hands, down the sides of my nails, on the soles of my feet… it all started blistering and peeling off in great lumps! And two months later it’s still happening. My hands are healed now but the soles of my feet, presumably because the skin is thicker, is still peeling in great chunks. 

But the worst. The WORST… my nails. Because the peeling didn’t stop at my regular skin. Oh no. About two weeks ago I discovered my nail beds were also blistering and peeling! To the point where a few of my nails are starting to separate from the skin underneath!

  
Anyone who knows me probably knows about my nail phobia. I have a phobia of damaging my nails. So this, right now, is totally messing with my head. I’m trying my utmost to avoid ripping the separating nails off! I keep painting layer after layer of polish on them to try to seal them, but as they grow longer the separation is getting worse. I caught one under a tray today and it separated from the skin just a little bit more. They are really, truly freaking me out!

So yeh, that’s Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in adults. If your kids get this generally mild illness I advise you to try not to catch it at all costs!

Stand Up

0

Time to get back to blogging I think. The demands of looking after two children leaves me little time for anything, particularly blogging. But today I have something to say.

The recent events in the world are leaving me, as many others, very depressed, distressed and sad. The actions of our government leaves me ashamed. I was with everyone else last week emailing MPs, signing petitions, tweeting and sharing, trying to prevent our government’s actions in Syria. All in vain of course. I’ve spent quite a lot of time and money buying and sending things to help refugees, sending funds to charities on the ground in Greece and Calais, spreading word about how people can help. It’s not enough. It’s a drop in the ocean. But it’s something. I’ve gotten into so many arguments with people online with their right-wing opinions. I’m tired of it all. Every time the weather is awful outside my heart breaks thinking about all those refugees with no shelter. My Facebook timeline is constantly full of pictures of injured and dead children… I can’t even say anything about that. Words can’t describe. What can you say?

The whole situation is so depressing. What the fuck is wrong with our species?!

Anyway, yesterday I attended a meeting arranged by Stand up for Racism and others to discuss how we can help. There were speakers from Unite, a gentleman who was as asylum seeker from Eritrea (and if you don’t know about what’s going on in Eritrea I urge you to find out!), and other people from other organisations who are trying to help refugees and asylum seekers. Some of them are making regular trips to Calais with supplies. Their stories would break your heart.

I could talk for a long time about what was said in the meeting, but the thing that struck me the most was the talk about creating a “hostile” environment. This really got to me. You see, it’s actually been our government’s policy for quite some time to deliberately make our country as hostile as possible for refugees – supposedly to discourage more from coming. It doesn’t, of course. They will still come. But our government is determined to make it as unpleasant as possible for them while they are here.

So they deliberately make it difficult for refugees to access funds, housing and support. There was one story about a refugee lady in our town who was expected to walk, weekly, from our town to the next city, (a walk of about 24 miles!), to claim her benefit money and if she didn’t it was stopped. The charity Unite claimed that refugees who often do not speak English are given forms to fill in with no help at all, and again if they are not completed correctly their money is stopped. (In our town they now have a volunteer translator and they will provide free support for refugees for one year). Refugees are housed like the Victorian poor, cramped together in tiny houses forced to share rooms while their landlords make a fortune by cramming as many people as possible into their housing.

How is this acceptable?! Have we lost our humanity?! And this is after they’ve managed to get here. Because creating a hostile environment involves making it as difficult as possible to get here. Barbed wire fences, etc at Calais itself. The refugees will still come, they will just end up horrifically injured in the process. And we hear stories all the time of the refugees being injured trying to jump the fences and steal onto lorries passing through Calais. There is no medical centre in Calais. They limp back to camp and treat their injuries themselves.

These people are not pests! They are not vermin, as the Daily Mail and The Sun would have us believe. They are people, just like you and me. They are doctors and teachers, solicitors and University lecturers. They are fathers and brothers and mothers. They are PEOPLE. Imagine if we accepted them into our country and offered them employment. Wouldn’t these people work their socks off?! It’s shameful. Absolutely shameful.

I am ashamed to be a member of “fortress” Britain. I’m ashamed to live in “fortress” Europe. Where walls are being constructed to keep out refugees from countries that WE destroyed! It’s a fucking disgrace.

That’s it. That’s all I have to say for now.

Why I Baby-Wear

1

I’m a pretty hardcore baby-wearer. I don’t own a pram or pushchair. I wore Nookie until she was three, and now Smushface spends hours every day in the sling. She takes most of her naps in the sling. I have a growing collection of various slings; a ring sling, a few Mei Tais, a Moby wrap and my newest addition, a podaegi. I just love baby-wearing. Why? Here’s why:

  • The closeness. I love having my babies near me. I love their smell. I love being able to just put my head down and kiss them on the head. I love cuddling them. I can’t imagine having them away from me in a pushchair. They should be right there, snuggled into my chest.
  • Breastfeeding. I can feed Smushface in most of my slings. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze, but I can. So I don’t have to stop whatever I’m doing, sit down and feed my baby. I just whip my boob out, stick it in her mouth, and then resume whatever I’m doing. Walking the dogs, cooking dinner, playing with Nookie… I’ve done them all whilst feeding Smushface in the sling. Having a baby around is so much easier when you don’t have to be pinned to the sofa feeding them! I also never worry about nursing in public because no one can see a thing!
  • Practicality. Getting on a bus with a pram? Putting a pram in a small car? Storing a pram in a tiny house? Getting a pram into any shop! Fuck that. I can’t actually describe to you how much easier using a sling is. I used a pram with Nookie for about three months and hated it (as did she!). They’re fucking cumbersome things. Granted, there are a few occasions when having a pushchair is easier. Baby-wearing in hot weather is a bit sweaty, for example. But a sling is more practical in about nine out of ten situations I would say.
  • Price. Unless you buy a pram or pushchair second-hand (like I did with Nookie), I understand they cost a pretty penny. And their resale value is negligible. Granted, some slings are hugely expensive. But they don’t have to be. My favourite Mei Tai cost £50. And when I’m done with it it’ll probably sell for about the same amount of money. I’ve bought and sold numerous slings as I’ve tried them out, and they’ve always sold for about the same amount as I bought them for so long as they’re well looked after.
  • Getting on with daily life. There aren’t many things I haven’t done whilst baby-wearing. Cooking, cleaning, walking, climbing with Nookie, ironing, mowing the lawn, planting trees, walking the dogs, putting up a tent… hands-free parenting! And the added weight must be making me stronger and fitter. Double bonus!
  • Aesthetic. Have you seen some slings? They’re beautiful! My podaegi is just gorgeous. My Maya wrap Mei Tai is so boho and pretty. Some of the woven wraps out there are made of the most intricate, beautiful fabrics. I love matching my slings to my outfits and wearing them. They look awesome!

Overall I baby-wear because it makes life, especially with an older child, much MUCH easier. I can’t imagine how I could do so many of the things I do without my slings. I don’t have to sacrifice any of my daily activities for my baby. She just fits into our lives.